Abusive and Negligent Principal Facing Criminal Investigation By Henrico County Police
Kandise Lucas, Ph.D. – Lt. Merz, of the Henrico County Police’s Special Victim’s Unit, confirmed that an investigation has been initiated regarding George Moody Middle School principal, Arthur Raymond, III, in relation to the actions that Raymond took against an African-American parent with special needs and her student within the school.
A report that was initially filed with the police department was immediately referred to the department’s Special Victims’s Unit by Officer Ninamarie Elliot after she received the supporting evidence from the parent.
Merz identified the criminal charges that Raymond is being investigated for as: failing to report the abuse and neglect of a child, violating the privacy/confidentiality of a student, and conspiring to commit cyberbullying. He went on to state that he planned to notify the county’s Commonwealth Attorney’s office as well as Mychael Dickerson, Director of Safety for Henrico County Public Schools, regarding the investigation. Due to the fact that Virginia’s codes have not kept up with the pace of technology, Merz shared that additional consultations will need to be conducted.
In addition to Raymond being under investigation, Merz also confirmed that Emer Henry, a parent of Moody High School that is suspected of conspiring to commit cyberbullying with Raymond, is also the subject of an investigation after he reviewed an online posting in which an adult, utilizing email@example.com as their email contact, impersonated a student at Moody, disclosed the identity of a special needs child, incited fear against him, falsely claimed that the student threatened to break into the homes of the female students within the school and planned to rape them. Several law enforcement sources have shared that the actions committed within the cyberbullying incident against the student with special needs by disclosing the student’s identity, inciting fear against him, then maliciously and falsely characterizing him as a potential rapist constitute grounds to have the actions referred to the FBI’s Civil Rights Division based on federal hate crime statutes.
For nearly a year, the parent of this student has communicated her concerns, both verbally and via email, regarding her son being abused, neglected, discriminated against, and harassed by school employees, including Raymond, however, school officials, which include, Superintendent Patrick Russo, Director of Special Education Bondy Gibson, Educational Specialist Leslie Botarri, Principal Arthur Raymond, Assistant Principal Anne Greene, School Social Worker Rebekah Goehler, and Special Education Department Head Margaret Walsh; have all refused to follow-up as required by Virginia’s Mandated Reporter Law.
As a result of the chronic and escalating misconduct by the district’s employees, the parent was forced to remove her son from Moody Middle School at the beginning of April, following the posting and circulating of the online comment for fear that her son would be targeted further by a student or adult within the school or community at large due to the false claim made by a parent impersonating a Moody student, that he had threatened to break into the homes of female students and rape them.
The online posting, which is clearly the words of an adult as opposed to a twelve-year old student, is listed below. A fictitious name has been used in place of the student’s real name in order to prevent any further privacy and safety concerns.
“dear Concerned Parent,
I am a classmate of the student who I believe is mentioned in the article. His name is Wayne. Moody is an IB school, meaning that people apply to attend there. The IB program was placed here because it had the lowest scores in the area on SOLs etc. I am an IB student and thus am unable to speak for the rest of the school, but in my experience I have never seen ANYONE bully Wayne. Frankly, I believe that it is because people are afraid of him. He shouts out cuss words repeatedly, and recently was suspended I believe for sending out letters to female students detailing how he would break into their house and rape them. I don’t know about you, but I would be scared of this guy too. The article repeatedly mentions the rascism of the principal and other staff, which is B.S. Moody is an incredibly diverse school, with many different ethnicities. It is very difficult to be rascist surrounded by so many multicultural people. I truly believe that neither Mr. Raymond nor the other staff could be rascist or lacking degrees. I have often seen Ms. Walsh and the other special ed. teachers tending to the students, and it is impossible to believe that they could be rascist or unqualified. I doubt they are well paid, and special education is not exactly everyone’s dream job. They have to deal with incidents like screaming students, naked students, and students who have defecated in hallways. I am doubtfull that anyone would wake up and decide that they are going to go into that field and then abuse children. Basically, I feel that many of the concerns in this article are unvalidated, and it sites no sources or other accounts, meaning it is hardly backed up by fact and causes me to call into question its journalistic integrity. Also, for all the people who say that people in Virginia all act like the South won the civil war, I have only this to say to you. All generalizations are false. That is all.”
When the parent requested a meeting with Moody’s staff in order to transfer her son to home-based instruction, school officials initially refused to hold the meeting for nearly two months. Eventually, after the parent filed a complaint with the Virginia Department of Education, the district was required to hold the meeting, in which all of the staff members at Moody that are suspected of misconduct, including Raymond, were present, and voted to deny the parent’s request to educate her son at home for safety reasons. During the course of the April 26, 2011 meeting with the parent, who was forced to participate via phone after Raymond banned her from the school after she was granted a police escort while in the school from the district superintendent, the staff of Moody refused to either discuss or consider the online cyberbullying posting that was submitted under the name of Emer Henry. In addition, when the parent requested that the posting and Henry’s name be included in the student’s educational plan document as grounds that substantiated the parent’s request for home-based services due to safety concerns, Raymond vehemently objected to including Henry’s personal information in the student record, which support the parent’s claims that he is familiar with the individual that authored the threatening communication. It was interesting to note that while Educational Specialist Botarri denied that anyone within the school had violated the student’s confidentiality by illegally discussing the student with the author of the online posting, Raymond did not, nor did he or any other school official initiate an investigation into the matter after having the threat for nearly a month.
Not only did district officials refuse to report abuse and neglect incidents regarding the student with special needs for nearly a year, but they also refused to provide the student’s instructional materials to allow him to receive private tutoring for nearly a month. Principal Raymond stated that it was “at his discretion,” as to whether he allowed students to receive instructional materials from the school. Raymond also reportedly issued an email to all of the students’ teachers, instructing them not to provide any work for the student to the parent as they had done in the past. The parent spent nearly three weeks requesting instructional materials from seven different school officials, which even included an attorney for the district, Patrick Andriano. Each of them refused to provide the materials, stating that the student must return to school in order to receive the missed work. Jan Parrish, Social Worker Supervisor, falsely advised a Henrico County judge, during a truancy pre-trial hearing, that the district had no previous knowledge that the parent planned to obtain private, at home instruction for the student even though the issue was discussed previously with Dr. Bondy Gibson and Principal Raymond when the parent requested the student’s instructional material from the district for throughout the month of April.
After nearly three weeks dealing with illegal denials, falsified statements, and even delays by district officials when, on April 22, 2011, Director of Special Education Bondy Gibson advised the parent that while she was not going to provide the instructional materials for her son at that time, it did not mean that she may not provide it in the future. Gibson never followed-up, nor did she provide the student’s work.
In a further act of retaliation, Principal Raymond and School Social Worker Rebekah Goehler, conspired to file false charges of truancy against the parent for not sending her son to school during the month of April following the publication and circulation of the threat allegedly sent from the email of Emer Henry, a parent at Moody Middle School. The criminal charge that was filed in Henrico County Juvenile and Domestic Court, failed to document the fact that the parent had requested a home-based placement for her son for nearly two months prior to removing him from the school for safety reasons. Goehler also failed to investigation the allegations of abuse and neglect, as required by law, prior to initiating criminal charges, and stated in an April 12, 2011 email to the parent, that she would not follow-up regarding the parent’s reports of abuse by school employees, and that she was only going to address the attendance issue. In addition, Raymond failed to comply with Virginia’s Compulsory Education Law when he refused to meet with the parent in order to discuss a disability harassment plan and safety plan for her son as required by law, yet he initiated criminal action against the parent for refusing to send her son to an environment that had proven to be physically and emotionally detrimental to her son for nearly a year.
In addition, to date, there has not been any confirmation as to whether Raymond or any other school official has banned the individual responsible for the online cyberbullying incident from Moody as they have the parent of this student, who is the first and only parent that Raymond has ever banned, based on reports by Mychael Dickerson, Director of Safety for Henrico County Public Schools. On the contrary, Raymond and all of the other school employees that are under investigation, have stated that because they “feel” as though the school is safe for the student, they will not grant the parent’s request to educate him at home. The parent has shared that she is convinced that should her son return to the school, there will be an organized effort to target him for further abuse, expulsion, or even worse, bodily harm in an effort to retaliate against her and prevent her son from serving as a potential witness against the district in a criminal court proceeding.
Several school employees within Moody Middle School have communicated their concerns regarding Raymond’s illegal, unethical, and racially-motivated actions toward this parent and student. Some have even shared incidents of racism, misconduct, and unprofessionalism that have been committed against them by Raymond, and stated that “this is the real Arthur Raymond that we are seeing now. He has gone too far now, so much so that he is taking the entire staff and district down with him. It is not fair that we have to do all of this paperwork, meet with lawyers, be told not to communicate with the parent of one of our students, save our student’s work, but be told that we cannot give our student the work that he needs, and face loosing our own teaching licenses because of what he is doing. It is just not right what he has done. Everyone knows it, even the lawyers that are trying to cover up for what he has done. Many of us are happy that this parent is still fighting for her son. Everyone knows that Mr. Raymond has always singled them out time after time. He has even laughed and made fun of her with other staff members, which is so unprofessional and mean-spirited. It is really personal for him because he does not treat any other parents like her, even the ones that curse out teachers or come to their student’s classes a lot more than this parent. Raymond does treat her son differently from the other students too. We have students that are abusive to teachers and pose a threat to the other students in the school, but Raymond does not go after them like he does this student. Everyone knows it. Her son is a sweet child that is very bright, and that does not deserve this with every thing that he faces as a child with special needs. His behavior issues are nothing compared to a lot of the other students at the school, but because he is black, he is treated more harshly. Because of Mr. Raymond’s attitude, actions, and words, the other students, parents, teachers, and administrators feel like they have to treat this parent and student the way that Raymond does, no matter how illegal or unfair it is, or else we will loose our jobs. That is a fact.”
The parent of the student, who has proven to be an extremely strong, dedicated, relentless, and passionate advocate for her son; willing to take on the entire school district in order to ensure a safe and quality education for her son, stated that, “Mr. Raymond does not care about my son, and has never cared about him. He has never contributed anything to my son’s education, and has only threatened, intimidated, and harassed me because I will not allow him to violate my son’s civil rights. The only administrator that has been fair, worked with us, and done what was best for my son is Assistant Principal Sharron Archer, but because she is African-American, Raymond will not let me work with her. He told me that I could only speak with Assistant Principal Anne Greene, who is a first-year administrator or himself, the two white administrators that have mistreated my son. No other person in the district has even asked my son how he feels about what is happening to him. He does not feel safe at the school. I do not feel safe at the school, or why would I request a police escort? Enough is enough. Now that my son is a possible witness against Raymond and the others, I know that I am not sending him back there. They could do anything to him so that he would not be able to testify against them. Moody Middle School is not a safe place, even if the Superintendent Russo’s children go there. He better watch Mr. Raymond with his children too.”
If you or anyone that you know has been subjected to misconduct, abuse, neglect, or discrimination at the hands of Moody Middle School employees, or any other school’s employees, please contact Attorney Charlotte Peoples Hodges at 804-377-9431. Attorney Hodges can also be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attorney Hodges will be holding a community meeting on Saturday, May 21, 2011, from 10:00 am-1:00 pm, at Henrico County Public Library, Varina Branch, located at 2001 Library Road, Henrico, VA 23231, for parents, students, educators, and administrators that feel as though they have had their rights violated by Henrico County Publics Schools.
Attorney Martha Russo, of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights Department, will also be holding two community meetings for parents, students, and community members in order to hear concerns regarding Henrico County Public School’s East End, on Monday, May 23, at Henrico County Public Library, Fairfield Branch, 1001 N. Laburnum Ave., Henrico, VA 23227. The second meeting will be on Tuesday, May 24, 2011, at the Henrico County Public Libary, North Park Branch, 8508 Franconia Road, Henrico, VA 23227. Both meetings will be held from 6:00pm-8:00pm. Attorney Russo can be reached at Martha.Russo@ed.gov.
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